Sunday, September 22, 2019

Alaska Republicans Scrap Presidential Preference Vote at 2020 Caucuses

James Brooks at the Anchorage Daily News is reporting that the Alaska Republican Party state central committee has voted at a meeting this weekend to skip the presidential preference poll during next year's caucuses.1 Instead, that caucus process will focus on selecting delegates rather than allocating them, and the selection will be of delegate candidates closely aligned with the sitting Republican president.

As has happened elsewhere -- in Arizona, Kansas, Nevada, South Carolina and Virginia -- state Republican parties have made the decisions to forgo delegate selection events in the face of an internally popular president seeking renomination. And given where President Trump currently stands in public opinion polling among Republicans in 2020 primary horse race surveys -- and especially given where is announced opponents are -- these decisions make some sense. In most, the thresholds to qualify for delegates is set high enough that neither Weld nor Sanford nor Walsh will qualify anyway, making the process of holding preference votes and allocating delegates largely moot.

Alaska, for example, has a 13 percent threshold that candidates have to hit in order to qualify for delegates. None of the president's three opponents are anywhere close to approaching that number in public opinion polling. Nonetheless, add Alaska to the growing number of Republican state parties that have made moves to insulate the president on his march to renomination next year.

1 Don't let the headline at that link fool you. Alaska Republicans have never had a presidential primary in the post-reform era. They have consistently conducted caucuses to which the party has often in competitive cycles tethered a presidential preference vote. But those are still caucuses conducted by the party and not the state government as is the case in the vast majority of states with primaries. The mode of Alaska Republican delegate selection over the years is cataloged in the calendars linked on the left column of this page.

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